Serena cruises into 2nd round

LONDON - Serena Williams started the defence of her Wimbledon title with a straight-sets win yesterday, seeing off Portuguese teenager Michelle Larcher de Brito despite a spirited fightback.

LONDON - Serena Williams started the defence of her Wimbledon title with a straight-sets win yesterday, seeing off Portuguese teenager Michelle Larcher de Brito despite a spirited fightback.

The US world No1 defeated the 17-year-old, who is known for her loud grunting, 6-0 6-4 inside an hour and three minutes on Centre Court. "When I saw the draw, I thought, last time I played her it was a really tough match, so I'm glad to get through," the top seed said.

Williams faces Russia's Anna Chakvetadze in the second round.

The defending men's champion gets the honour of opening on Centre Court on day one of the tournament, while the ladies' title holder opens the second day. But while Roger Federer was forced to come back from two sets down and had to break Alejandro Falla's serve to save the match, there was no such trouble for Williams.

Two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova avoided an upset and advanced to the second round with a narrow victory. The 19th-seeded Kuznetsova edged 93rd-ranked Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan 6-2 6-7 (5) 6-4.

Zheng Jie of China beat Pauline Parmentier of France 7-5 6-4, while Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland saw off Hungarian Melinda Czink 6-3 6-3 and Flavia Pennetta of Italy overwhelmed Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-4 6-0. - Sapa-AFP

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